#54 – Hardcastle Crags, Shackleton Knoll and Lumb Hole Waterfall

Lumb Hole Waterfall

There’s something about waterfalls.  The combination of sound, movement, power and light is elemental and irresistible, and it’s little wonder that waterfalls have inspired artists, photographers, poets and writers.  There is even a school of thought that waterfalls have a calming effect on the mind and body, due to the creation of negative hydrogen ions released by the splitting of water molecules.  Personally, I just like ‘em!

'Hebden Water'

Small waterfall above Hebden Water

Regular readers of this blog will know by now that I like my hills ‘pointy’ and with a peak or two, but failing that a good ‘rugged wilderness’ sort of feel will do.  The last week didn’t offer much opportunity for either, but we can usually come up with an idea for a good trip out, however modest in scope.  The inspiration in this case came from Chris, who suggested we do something local rather than nothing at all.  A good plan as it turned out.

Autumn colours

Footbridge over Hebden Water

We started from New Bridge near Hebden Bridge, the idea being to follow Hebden Water to Gibson Mill, then beyond to Hardcastle Crags and Black Dean, before returning by the edge of Shackleton Knoll.  Not a high mileage day, or high altitude for that matter, with our high point a mere 370 metres.  As an extra treat we decided to include Lumb Hole Waterfall to the route.

The stream below Hardcastle Crags

The outward section following the stream of Hebden Water was very much a woodland walk, with the autumn colours of the trees providing most of the interest.  Gibson Mill is now a National Trust property, with a café popular with walkers, but not today though – ‘midweek’ and ‘autumn’ meant ‘closed’ in this case, so we pressed on upstream.

The views open up on leaving the woods

Looking down to Blake Dean

The route through the woods eventually emerges at Black Dean, near Widdop, where the closed nature of the woodland opens up, with views down to the valley below.  Alcomden Water took us up to the bridge at Holme Ends, before we turned back on ourselves to head for Shackleton Knoll.  Although modest in height, there were good views down Crimsworth Dean to the Calder Valley.

The bridge at Holme Ends

View down to the Calder Valley – Heptonstall Church tower just left of centre in the middle ground and Stoodley Pike monument (see blog #40) just visible right of centre in the far ground

On our way off the high ground we passed the sad remains of derelict farmhouses, before heading down to Crimsworth Dean Beck and Lumb Hole.  The waterfalls are not the biggest you would ever come across, but they have a certain charm.  The stream above one of the falls is crossed by an old packhorse bridge, and the route must be ancient.

Deserted farmhouse at ‘Coppy’

Second derelict farmhouse at ‘Nook’

The packhorse bridge at Lumb Hole

This beauty spot has been well known for decades, and provided the inspiration for a poem by Ted Hughes titled “Six Young Men”.  The poem is based on a photograph taken at Lumb Hole shortly before the start of the First World War – of the “Six Young Men” in the photograph, none survived the slaughter of that conflict.

First view of the falls

Looking back at the packhorse bridge

Looking down Crimsworth Dean Beck from the packhorse bridge

Despite the sombre thoughts expressed in the poem, this is still a pretty place.  However, we couldn’t linger too long – coming down from a walk with the help of a headtorch could get to be a too regular event!

Final view of Lumb Hole waterfalls

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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24 Responses to #54 – Hardcastle Crags, Shackleton Knoll and Lumb Hole Waterfall

  1. This looks a great walk- perhaps in the new year..?


  2. This looks like a walk I certainly would to do when I get there next year.


  3. Hi Michael,
    If you need more detailed route plans for this, or any of my other routes, email me sometime and I’ll put something together.


  4. stan bonnar says:

    hi paul,
    this may have been a modest walk, but from my visual perspective – your best photos yet! especially the stunning ‘autumn colours’ with its mysterious sense of something un-present in the light.

    p.s. didn’t know that mel gibson was national trust property.


    • Hi Stan and thanks for the kind words.
      The lone tree in the 4th pic was amazing – it looked as though a spotlight was shining on it! – I have another shot of it in portrait format rather than landscape, which I thought was better, but I had to use the landscape form shot to make best use of the page shape and size.

      “…..p.s. didn’t know that mel gibson was national trust property”

      Haha… He’s possibly starting to look like an old ruin now 😀


  5. The weather looked great. I didn’t know that waterfalls had a relaxing effect but now that I think of it it makes complete sense :). I’m just surprised they explained it with the creation of ions lol. These small waterfalls are lovely 🙂


  6. Those are great photos of autumn – we haven’t had many colours around here. I particularly love the multi-coloured beech early on. The waterfalls look lovely too…

    I’ve only been to Hardcastle Crags once and that was on an Open University field trip – looking at that, I should rectify that I think. Presumably I can get there by train and/or bus from Leeds or Bradford?


  7. Hi Carol,
    Train from Leeds/Bradford to Hebden Bridge is easy, about three an hour. Buses are less convenient, as you have to head for Halifax then change.
    After that you would have to walk out from Hebden town centre, but I would guess as a hardy Munroist, used to long walks to and from the peaks, you would barely be warmed up by the time you got to Hardcastle 😀
    If you are looking at local stuff, you might be interested in post #40 if you haven’t seen it yet – do-able by train again, and with some hearty walks to get to the start points!
    I take it you don’t have wheels of your own?


    • Thanks for that – about how far is it from Hebden town centre?

      I do have a car but hate driving nowadays with the congestion. I especially don’t drive anywhere in West Yorkshire at all. All my cars ever get used for is trips to Scotland, The Lakes and Wales.


      • The station isn’t quite in the centre of Hebden, so include that and it’s almost 3 kms to the start point of the walk we did, plus about 130 metres height gain – keep you fit for those Munros 🙂
        I know what you mean about congestion – for North Wales I’m leaving home at about 0530 to make sure I’m past Manchester before the bedlam starts, then I try to avoid the madness at the Bradford end of the M62 when I come back.


  8. Thanks for that.

    That’s the good thing about going up to Scotland – you get spoilt with the quiet roads and, even passing Glasgow, isn’t that bad on the Stirling roads (A80 etc). The A74 isn’t usually bad either.


  9. Luke says:

    Hi Paul,
    Don’t know If you are still on this site or its an archive site, just came across this walk for lumb falls? I’m new to walking scene, but me and my partner have recently walked to stooley pike and round that area, I really wanted to visit lumb falls, but didn’t know the first thing about planning this walk. Would love to do the route that you went on about and any detailed route would be very much appreciated, I’m going to park the car in new bridge car park. Many thanks.


    • Hi Luke – yes I’m still very much here 🙂

      I’ll send a .jpg file to your email address with a 1:25k map of the route – the map section is taken from OS Explorer sheet ‘OL 21 South Pennines’. If there are any bits that don’t make sense, get in touch via my email address – I can still remember most of that route fairly well.

      Best wishes,


      • Luke says:

        Hi Paul, just recieved the email it’s great, thank you very much. I’m excited now I know where I’m going. This is very much appreciated and ill let you know how we get on when we go.


  10. steve says:

    Hi Paul, don’t know if you are still on here but here goes, would love a more detailed info on the route, I know my way to hard castle crags car park having visited last year, just getting into walking as I have just semi retired and hopefully fully retired at the end of July, the main point of my walks are photography, detailed directions and length of walk and were to park would be great, thanks for your help. Steve


    • Hi Steve, if there’s any specific info I can give you, then ask away!


      • Steve Reed says:

        Hi Paul just want to know my way to the waterfall, from the hard castle car park, is it just a case off following the stream upwards? is there a foot path?, how far from the car park to the falls? Cheers. Steve

        Sent from my iPad



      • Hi Steve, hope that this helps.
        Start from what I call the upper car park for the Hardcastle Crag/Gibson Mill walks. Head (roughly) North on a wide track. After about 250 metres you pass some buildings (National Trust office) on the right.
        Continue in the same direction on the track, which passes through woodland. After about 1.2 kms (about 30 mins) the track leaves the wood and continues in open country.
        Continue on the still rising track, passing farm buildings on the right. After 700 metres (about 15 mins) you come to a derelict house on the left (at this point, a track goes up more steeply to the left to another derelict house). Here you go downhill to the right, passing yet another derelict, and following a diagonal path heading downhill towards the river.
        Just above the river follow the path to the left to Lumb Hole.
        The walking is easy on a wide track until you get to the derelict buildings – the track down to the river can get quite wet and muddy.
        I would guess at about 1hr 30 mins to 2 hrs for the whole thing depending on how fast you walk.


      • Steve Reed says:

        Hi Paul, thanks just one thing when I go past the mill do I need to be on the other side of the stream, stream on my left as I walk or on my right, thanks hoping to do the walk this week weather permitting (camera gear gets wet! ). Thanks again for your trouble , Steve

        Sent from my iPad



      • Hi again Steve, possibly a bit of confusion here – the route description I gave you was to go straight to the waterfalls from the car park!
        If you do the whole walk, you can go either side of the stream after Gibson Mill, as the paths meet up again – my preference is to go on the left side of the stream. Hope that makes sense!


      • steve says:

        hi Paul thanks again for the reply, I never thought about being able to change sides of the stream but yes come to think of it I think I have seen photos of a bridge near it so obviously I would be able to cross over [just a senior moment] but did not know you could go up both sides of the stream [paths!!?] . i have walked up the right hand side but went off into the fields up and around and back a different way, I have only just learnt of the water falls hence my interest, too late to go this week now but maybe next week, or if not sooner definitely later on when I retire fully [soon, yippee] , sorry im waffling but just to say thanks again for the info, Steve


  11. Great stuff – enjoy the waterfalls when you do get there, it’s a lovely spot!


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